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Weak box office is scaring Hollywood into delaying theater releases

Jasmine Garsd Sep 16, 2020
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Moviegoers watch a film at a reopened AMC theater in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, in August. While theaters are reopening, dragging box office numbers are spooking studios. Tom Cooper/Getty Images
COVID-19

Weak box office is scaring Hollywood into delaying theater releases

Jasmine Garsd Sep 16, 2020
Heard on:
Moviegoers watch a film at a reopened AMC theater in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, in August. While theaters are reopening, dragging box office numbers are spooking studios. Tom Cooper/Getty Images
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When the highly anticipated sci-fi film “Tenet” opened in theaters earlier this month, it was a kind of calculated risk that many say didn’t pay off.  

So far, “Tenet” has only made about $30 million domestically. And that’s spooking studios.

Hollywood got the message loud and clear, said Arun Sharma, a marketing professor at the University of Miami.

“The reaction now is to postpone any expected blockbusters to a later release date,” he said. That is why Warner Bro.s has postponed “Wonder Woman 1984.” The studio reportedly invested about $200 million in the sequel. Fans of the lasso-swinging superheroine are going to have to wait until Christmas to see it.

Now it’s rumored that “Black Widow” and the James Bond film “No Time To Die,” both due in November, will be postponed, too

A fall season with no tentpole Hollywood films is bad news for theaters. Professor Jason Squire at the University of Southern California said some might find it impossible to weather the storm.

“If it continues through the Holiday season … that’s a nine-month storm,” he said. “And this is really, really a serious serious event in the history of exhibition.”

That’s exacerbating tensions in Hollywood, which for decades has built audiences around shiny content. Lassoes! Car chases! Spies! Intergalactic battles! 

But for now, studios seem to be leaning toward playing it safe and putting the golden lasso away until winter.

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